Case Study: Unique Architecture from Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick Studio exists to make unique design projects happen. The studio is recognised worldwide for its work in Architecture, Sculpture, Urban Infrastructure and Product Design. Working with Intrinsys, Heatherwick Studio is replacing its existing CAD and data management systems with Dassault Systèmes’ state of the art Project Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution.

Established in 1994, Heatherwick Studio’s business operates from a studio and workshop in Kings Cross, London and is renowned for its creative and innovative use of engineering principles and materials. Beyond the area of creative design the company adopts a practical hands-on philosophy which includes model-making, prototyping, and experimentation with ideas, materials and manufacturing processes.

Creative Direction
Born in London, Thomas Heatherwick trained as a designer at Manchester Metropolitan University and at the Royal College of Art, London. He is a Royal Designer for Industry, a Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Sheffield Hallam University. The Heatherwick Studio team comprises architects, product designers and engineers.

Clients
Heatherwick Studio work on commercial and residential building projects as well as works of public art and general product design. The studio has a strong list of prestigious clients including Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Manchester City Council and Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Projects include: 

  • B of the Bang, a 56-metre tall weathering steel structure made from 180 identical tapering tubes arranged in twenty-four elliptical groupings of between one and nine spikes. The project was developed as part of the regeneration strategy for Manchester’s eastern quarter and is the same height as the Tower of Pisa - only it leans ten times as much.
     
  • Another project is the ’Rolling Bridge’ located within a new residential, office and retail quarter set around Paddington Basin. Rather than a conventional opening bridge mechanism, the Rolling Bridge opens by curling up until its two ends touch. While in its horizontal position, the bridge is a normal, inconspicuous steel and timber footbridge; fully open, it forms a circle on one bank of the water that bears little resemblance to its former flat self. The Rolling Bridge won the 2005 British Structural Steel Award.
     
PLM, The Future
Rolling bridge rolled upHeatherwick Studio decided to deploy PLM in order to help expand the business through improved design performance. The requirements were for a single software product that could support mechanical and product design as well as providing a data management solution. One of the reasons for selecting CATIA and ENOVIA SmarTeam to support the PLM infrastructure was that the products, developed by Dassault Systèmes, support a wide range of engineering disciplines. “It was important that we selected a software solution that could support the long-term growth of the business within a single product suite without the need to add additional tools at a later date,” says Nader Mokhtari, Managing Director of Heatherwick Studio. The company wanted to increase efficiency and knowledge capture was seen as a mechanism to reduce the amount of time spent on repetitive design tasks. This ensured that more time could be spent by designers on the creative aspects of the projects. As the profile of the studio and its projects has grown, there has been an increasing need to be able to communicate in a more effective manner. Increasingly, collaboration with external external suppliers and clients affects the success of a project and the deployment of ENOVIA SmarTeam is an important part of managing this collaboration successfully.

 
Intrinsys, A Vital Part of the Process
The deployment of a PLM philosophy touches almost every aspect of the business. At Heatherwick Studio, Intrinsys have ensured that the implementation has been managed in a manner that has not adversely affected ongoing projects. “To introduce a PLM philosophy successfully, we required support from a genuine partner that is itself a leading-edge user of the software, rather than just a supplier. With Intrinsys, their experience with the tools enabled them to help us to configure and deploy the solution in a way that was optimised to suit our business needs; and they have become an important part of our PLM deployment process. The quality of the support has been excellent. They have shown that they care about our business and value the relationship,” says Mokhtari. Intrinsys helped to develop a strategy for moving towards a PLM deployment and, following a successful early relationship, Heatherwick Studio has asked Intrinsys to manage the specification, installation and deployment of the IT system at their new studio, which they plan to relocate to later this year.

The Future
Heatherwick Studio does not see PLM as simply a software product. Instead it sees an environment for capturing outstanding streamlined business process. This is considered vital in maintaining its position at the leading edge of design into the future. Following its strong commitment in the deployment phase, the company looks forward to reaping the benefits over the coming years.

Rolling bridge